French press review 20 December 2012
Should Franco-Algerian history be rewritten? Is taxing the rich unfair and illegal? And is the Eu plotting to close down local rail links?
Le Figaro devotes its main front page story to the visit of French president François Hollande to Algeria.
The right-wing daily notes with approval the French head of state's care yesterday in dealing with the tragic colonial legacy and the often brutal history shared by the two nations.
Le Figaro says it's time for both sides to face up to the truth, certainly not time for unilateral declarations of repentance. It's also time to start looking forward, beyond the horrors of the war of independence, which has only history-book reality for the vast majority of the population.
Those history books need to be rewritten, anyway, to counterbalance the crimes of the French military with those committed by the National Liberation Front (FLN), says the paper. But former FLN fighters, from President Abdelaziz Bouteflika down, still dominate the Algerian political scene.
A more balanced version of the truth would hardly suit their interests, any more than it would suit those of Hollande. So a resolute focus on the future, especially in the commercial domain, is the way forward.
Business daily Les Echos looks at a case due to open before the French Constitutional Court - the republic's legal watchdog - in which the right-wing opposition is challenging the constitutionality of certain provisions of next year's budget, notably the 75 per cent tax rate and other increases in official means of separating the very rich from their ill-gottens.
Les Echos claims that nearly 45 per cent of the increase in the tax burden under the Socialist government will be born by just 0.1 per cent of the paying population. The conservatives claim that some people, victims of accumulated taxation, actually pay more than they earn, and that's unjust.
Possibly punitive. It may even be unconstitutional. Interested parties who have not already fled across the border into Belgium will be hoping the Socialists' tax regime is found to be in breach of their fundamental rights.
Legal analysts in Les Echos suggest that the fact that the disputed laws are seen as strictly temporary may save them - the laws, that is, not the rich - from the constitutional guillotine.
Communist L'Humanité laments the possible withdrawal of state support for 29 rail links, considered as no longer economically viable.
The context is a proposed law on decentralisation. L'Humanité suggests that 70 per cent of current rail services are threatened and the Communist Party daily is convinced the whole thing is part of a wider European plot to provide fast links between big cities to the detriment of local services.